Swimming is a very common and fun activity for many families. Millions of people, young and old, wait for the summers to go out and swim at their local pools. Most of them even start refilling and cleaning their personal pools early in the spring to prep for their upcoming pool parties. There is also a big subset of people who swim for fitness, and go to their local pools year-around to swim laps and stay in shape. Multiple health experts have talked on the benefits of swimming – no matter what your age and how you can swim as a life long sport. Just like with any sport though, if you overdo it or are not physically ready to hit the pool 5x a week – you could be at risk for some serious injuries. Learn more about these common swimming injuries below.
Common Swimming Injuries:
Most of the injuries caused in swimming are from poor technique. Rarely do we see injuries related to impact or other swimmers. In today’s article, we will be discussing the 4 common swimming injuries related to poor technique and the proper treatment if you’re experience one.
1.) Neck Pain
Swimming requires a lot of work from the neck. Not only do swimmers constantly work on their body position and keeping great body alignment, in the Freestyle stroke – a swimmer will be consistently rotating through their neck to breathe. This can tighten up your neck of the side you breathe towards and cause you some neck pain.
The Butterfly stroke can do the same thing. With always breathing and facing forward, a swimmer will put a lot of stress on their neck to complete their set/laps – so be sure to note if you’re neck feels tight after practice or you experience any pain to talk to your coach and doctor (if need be).
How to Prevent Neck Pain:
There are certain prevention tips that you can keep in mind when going for a swim next time:
1.) Keep your head, spine and the rest of your body aligned as best you can while swimming.
2.) Try bilaterally breathing in Freestyle and maintaining a breathing pattern in Butterfly.
Recovering from Neck Pain:
1.) Mix in different swimming strokes to your swimming routine. This will keep your neck muscles from doing the same movement over and over again.
2.) Take a break from the pool.
3.) Use anti-inflammatories and visit your doctor.
2.) Shoulder Pain
All the revolutions swimmers do can be very stressful for their shoulders. Each stroke requires firing from some of the same muscles and also a few different ones.
If you have a tendency to swim a lot of Freestyle and Butterfly, you will constantly be rotating your shoulder forward and requiring your shoulder to internally rotate. This can result in inflammation, pain, and overuse.
There has been a lot of Healthcare professionals have studied that people who do not get proper treatment for their shoulder, and this can result in taking some extended periods of time away from the pool.
Prevention from Swimmer’s Shoulder:
Recovery from Swimmer’s Shoulder:
1.) Stop putting any unnecessary stress on the shoulders, like carrying heavy backpacks or performing weight training exercises overhead.
2.) Vary your kicking styles between using a board and not using one.
3.) Avoid swimming until the doctor gives you the green light.
4.) Follow up with your doctor and never miss a physical therapy or doctor appointment.
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3.) Swimmer’s Ear
Although it is not an orthopedic-related injury, swimmer’s ear can trigger quite a bit of pain. Swimmer’s ear is mainly damaged by bathing in water containing elevated amounts of bacteria. Itching, clogged, impaired hearing, or sensitivity in the outer part of the ear is some of the common symptoms of swimmer’s ear. If your symptoms are left untreated, you could also see extended periods breaks from the pool from this injury as well.
Prevention from Swimmer’s Ear:
1.) Always swim at pools that keep their water and chlorine levels regulated.
2.) Consider wearing ear plugs if this is a chronic issue for you.
3.) Clean your ears after swimming with a cotton swab to remove any bacteria or excess water in your ears
4.) Use alcohol to dry out your ears after swimming s well.
Recovery from Swimmer’s Ear:
1.) Visit your doctor and use your medicated drops as prescribed to treat your infection.
2.) Take a break from the pool if required.
3.) Don’t miss your follow-up appointment with your doctor and keep them abreast of your pain levels.
4.) Knee Pain
Breaststroke is normally seen as the “easy stroke” for lap swimmers. But for a lot of competitive swimmers, Breaststroke can be quite physically challenging and stressful on a swimmer’s knee. I’ve known plenty of competitive swimmers who have torn their meniscus or MCL’s from kicking too much Breaststroke. These injuries can be very painful and take you away from swimming for quite some time.
Make sure if you’re experiencing knee pain that you see a doctor right away to avoid dealing with a more serious injury in the future.
Prevention from Breaststroke Swimmer’s Knee:
1.) Mix up your training routine to include sets with and without the Breaststroke stoke.
2.) Include Breaststroke Drills that change the way you kick – like Breaststroke with a Dolphin Kick, Breaststroke with a Flutter Kick, Breaststroke Pull, and more. See below:
3.) Improve your hip abduction. For those who don’t know, this is how much your legs can move away from its’ respective hip joint. Having more range of motion through hip abduction will help take away extra stress on your knees.
Recovery from Breaststroke Swimmer’s Knee:
1.) Put a cold compresses or ice the affected knee 2-3x a day for 20 minutes each time.
2.) Listen to your doctor and follow any physical therapy exercises they give you to do.
Swimming is a great activity for any of any age. There are so many health benefits to swimming, that is why it’s normally one of the first prescribed style of exercises after surgeries – but if you aren’t careful with your swimming technique, you can be at risk to injuries yourself.
If your body ever gives you a sharp pain feeling after leaving the pool, you could have a swimming related injury. Instead of avoiding it, follow up with your doctor immediately. Happy Training!